Operational Change to ACA Accreditation

March 2017

After evaluation of the implementation of the Operational Change that occurred in nine of the twenty-three local areas in ACA in 2016, it was determined that all additional local areas will be included in Phase 2 of the implementation, which occurs in 2017. This means that moving forward (2017 and beyond), all currently accredited camps will either have an on-site visit or must complete the Annual Accreditation Report. Information about what is required of your camp has being shared via email from your local staff and volunteers.

ACA Task Force on Accreditation Recommendations

In February 2016, a task force was assembled to determine how the ACA Accreditation Program and process could be more open and appropriate for a variety of groups, without sacrificing the goals, intent, and integrity of the process. At the Board of Directors meeting in May, the report of the Task Force on Accreditation was presented and the recommendations were approved.

Summary of Task Force on Accreditation Recommendations

1. Develop a foundation of both accreditation standards and definitions that apply to all programs to be accredited, as well as develop modules for each program types (such as resident, day, campusrelated programs, or others).

Key aspects to be addressed include:

  • Reduction of the redundancy in standards
  • An APG and standards that serve the diversity of camps we see now as well as those we anticipate in the future
  • Reduce the actual number of standards (those that are met 100% of the time, do not address health, safety, risk management, etc.).
  • And increase the integrity of the program, promote growth, and increase satisfaction

2. Define a growth strategy for colleges and universities that either host or house camp programs on their campuses. The strategy will include further development of the recently formed Affinity Group within ACA known as Camps on Campus.

The concept of the growth strategy includes, but is not limited to those who join the affinity group. It’s about developing a business strategy to approach the market in general, with the affinity group/ membership platform as a vehicle.

3. Utilize technology and other strategies to support the work of the Visitor program.

In addition to identifying technology solutions to support the Visitor program, a comprehensive program of training, support, continuing education, and accountability should be developed to enhance the standards volunteer experience and improve the quality of the accreditation program overall. Such efforts will also help attract and retain volunteers because of the added value to their professional education.

4. Explore ways to incorporate program quality into the accreditation process.

As we consider additional ways by which ACA can assist in helping camps “raise the bar” on program quality, methods that promote a culture of continuous and intentional improvement might be incorporated into ACA standards and the Annual Accreditation Report (AAR).

Progress to Date:

  • The National Standards Commission (NSC) has been focusing on recommendation #1 throughout the fall/winter.
  • Key goals of the NSC are to make the process more efficient and remove unintended barriers.
  • This includes identifying a set of core standards that will to be scored by all camps accredited by ACA.
    -There will be no option of a “does not apply.”
    -They will include both mandatory and non-mandatory standards.
  • The NSC is working to reduce the redundancy by re-wording of some standards, combining some standards, and grouping standards with the same focus together.
  •  Key conversations are taking place with the representatives from the many types of camps ACA currently accredits and those ACA hopes to include in the future.
  • Maintaining the integrity and rigor of the program is critical.
  • A very basic framework of the proposed standards and description pf a revised process will be the topic of at least two focus groups to be held at the ACA National Conference.

If you have any questions regarding the operational change or the task force recommendations, please contact ACA Director of Standards Rhonda Mickelson at 765-349-3306 or rmickelson@acacamps.org.

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